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Medical News & Updates


Consuming raw fruit, veggies boosts mental health: Study
Friday, 12th July 2019
A new study has found that eating raw fruit and vegetables such as kiwis, bananas, apples and dark leafy greens may lower symptoms of depression and improve mental health, more than cooked, canned and processed food.

Consuming raw fruits and vegetables leads to lower levels of mental illness symptomology, such as depression, as per the findings. It also improved levels of psychological well-being including a positive mood and life satisfaction.

Lead author Tamlin Conner, senior lecturer at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand said, "Our research has highlighted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in their 'unmodified' state is more strongly associated with better mental health compared to cooked/canned/processed fruit and vegetables."

Conner said, when the fruits and vegetables are cooked, canned and processed, they lose their mental health benefits as the process potentially diminishes the nutrient levels.

"Cooking and processing likely limits the delivery of nutrients that are essential for optimal emotional functioning," Conner added.

For the study more than 400 young adults from New Zealand and the US aged 18 to 25 years were surveyed.

Conner says public health campaigns have historically focused on aspects of quantity for the consumption of fruit and vegetables (such as 5+ a day).

However, the new study found that for mental health in particular, it may also be important to consider the way in which produce was prepared and consumed.

"This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe and adjuvant approach to improving mental health," Conner said.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Using e-cigarettes can harm your liver, says study
Friday, 12th July 2019
For most people, the topic of e-cigarette safety is of constant debate. Is it safer than normal cigarettes or is it more harmful? Does it induce the habit of smoking tobacco or increase the chances of fatality?

Many studies on these vaping pens have shown contradictory results while some say, it reduces the impulse to smoke cigarettes as well as the risk of death, others have said the complete opposite.

Two studies carried out last year, for instance, had contradictory evidence to show. While one said that vaping could reduce mortality rate, the other said that the practice may double the risk of smoking.

Now, as the government continues to caution people against tobacco and e-cigarettes, a new study has suggested that the use of e-cigarettes may lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver.

The study exposed mice to the devices to come to the conclusion.

"The popularity of electronic cigarettes has been rapidly increasing in part because of advertisements that they are safer than conventional cigarettes. But because extra fat in the liver is likely to be detrimental to health, we conclude that e-cigarettes are not as safe as they have been promoted to consumers," said lead author Theodore C. Friedman of Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Calif. "This has important public health and regulatory implications."

E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which Dr Friedman and other researchers have reported is associated with non-alcohol fatty liver diseases. However, the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke are unknown.

In the 12-week study, Friedman and colleagues studied mice missing the gene for apolipoprotein E, which makes them more prone to developing heart disease and fat in the liver. All of the mice were fed a diet relatively high in fat and cholesterol.

One group of mice was put in a chamber that exposed them to e-cigarette aerosol so that their blood nicotine levels were similar to that of smokers and e-cigarette users. The second group of mice were exposed to saline aerosol.

The researchers collected liver samples and looked at genes in the liver affected by e-cigarettes using a technique called RNA sequence analysis. They found changes in 433 genes that were associated with fatty liver development and progression in the mice exposed to e-cigarettes.

The researchers also found that genes related to circadian rhythms (the body clock) were changed in mice exposed to e-cigarettes. Circadian rhythm dysfunction is known to accelerate the development of liver disease including fatty liver diseases.

"Our experimental results will provide support to policymakers and federal and state regulatory bodies to take preventive measures to stop the increasing use of e-cigarettes among both children and adults," Friedman said.

The research was presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.
Self-esteem key to treat mental health patients: Study
Friday, 12th July 2019
Improving how mental health patients perceive themselves can be critical in treating them, a first of its kind study has claimed.

The findings of the study suggest that youths with psychiatric disorders, currently receiving inpatient services, reported lower self-concept, particularly global self-worth, compared to those receiving outpatient services.

"This was the first study that examined youth with a psychiatric disorder by comparing what type of service they were receiving and whether that was associated with self-concept," said Mark Ferro, Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo."We know that global self-worth is lower in the inpatient group and we know from other research that lower self-concept is a precursor to other more serious mental health problems," Ferro said.

For the study, published in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers examined a group of youth aged between 8-17 years who were receiving inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services.

The participants' self-concept was measured using the Self-Perception Profile for Children and Adolescents.

According to the researchers, self-concept might be an important aspect to consider when implementing treatment programmes to improve the mental health of youth who are hospitalized.

"Because youths who are in the inpatient service have a lower self-concept, therapies within their overall treatment program aiming to improve self-worth might be worthwhile," the researcher noted.
Monthly dose of new antibody may halve migraine attacks
Friday, 12th July 2019
In a breakthrough, scientists have found an antibody, a monthly dose of which could halve the number of debilitating attacks of migraine on patients who have exhausted all other treatments.

The findings showed that people treated with erenumab were nearly three times more likely to have reduced their migraine days by 50 percent or more than those treated with placebo.

Those treated with erenumab also had a greater average reduction in the number of days they had headaches and the number of days they needed to take drugs to stop the migraines.

"Our study found that erenumab reduced the average number of monthly migraine headaches by more than 50 percent for nearly a third of study participants. That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person's quality of life," said Uwe Reuter from The Charite - University Medicine Berlin in Germany.

Erenumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks pain signals by targeting a receptor for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

This peptide transmits migraine pain signals. Erenumab occupies the nerves to which CGRP would usually bind.

"Our results show that people who thought their migraines were difficult to prevent may actually have hope of finding pain relief," Reuter added.

The preliminary results will be presented at the forthcoming American Academy of Neurology's 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

For the study, 246 people who had episodic migraine were given injections of either 140 milligrams of erenumab or a placebo once a month for three months.

Of the participants, 39 per cent had been treated unsuccessfully with two other medications, 38 per cent with three medications and 23 per cent with four medications.

A total of 30 per cent of the people treated with erenumab had half the number of headaches compared to 14 per cent on placebo.

For those on erenumab, there was an average 1.6 times greater reduction in migraine days and a 1.7 times greater reduction in acute medication days compared to those on placebo.

In addition, the safety and tolerability of erenumab was similar to placebo. However, more research is now needed to understand who is most likely to benefit from this new treatment, Reuter said.
Sleep problems may indicate multiple
Friday, 12th July 2019
Scientists have found that multiple sclerosis (MS) may be identified at least five years earlier as the patients were more likely to undergo treatments for nervous system disorders like pain or sleep problems, according to a study.

MS results from the body's immune system attacking myelin -- fatty material that enables rapid transmission of electrical signals -- which disrupts the communication between the brain and other parts of the body, leading to vision problems, muscle weakness, difficulty with balance and coordination, and cognitive impairments.

"The existence of such `warning signs` are well-accepted for Alzheimer`s disease and Parkinson`s disease, but there has been little investigation into a similar pattern for MS," said lead researcher Helen Tremlett from the Division of Neurology at the University of British Columbia in Canada."We now need to delve deeper into this phenomenon, perhaps using data-mining techniques. We want to see if there are discernible patterns related to sex, age or the `type` of MS they eventually develop," Tremlett added.

For the study, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, the team examined health records of 14,000 people with multiple sclerosis and compared them to the health records of 67,000 people without the disease.

Fibromyalgia -- a condition involving widespread musculoskeletal pain -- was found more than three times in people who were later diagnosed with MS as compared to those who did not.

Irritable bowel syndrome was almost twice as common in people who developed the disorder. Migraine headaches and any mood or anxiety disorder, which includes depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder were also found in higher rates among the group.

Further, higher rates of these illnesses also correspond with higher use of medications for musculoskeletal disorders, nervous system disorders, and disorders of the genito-urinary tract, along with antidepressants and antibiotics.

The findings may enable physicians to diagnose the disease earlier and start the treatment, thus possibly slowing the damage it causes to the brain and spinal cord.
Smelling coffee may boost your analytical skills for GMAT
Friday, 12th July 2019
If you love the fragrance of coffee, there are high chances of better performance in analytical tasks, a new study has found.

According to the researchers, smelling a coffee-like scent -- which has no caffeine in it -- has an effect similar to that of drinking coffee, suggesting a placebo effect of coffee scent.

The findings also suggested that the scent of coffee alone may help people perform better on the analytical portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) -- a computer adaptive test required by many business schools.

"It`s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting," said co-author Adriana Madzharov from the Stevens Institute of Technology in the US. "But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance," Madzharov added.

For the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the research team administered a 10-question GMAT algebra test in a computer lab to about 100 undergraduate business students.

The participants were divided into two groups. One group took the test in the presence of an ambient coffee-like scent, while a control group took the same test -- but in an unscented room.

The researchers found that the group in the coffee-smelling room scored significantly higher on the test.

The team also designed a follow-up survey -- conducted among more than 200 new participants -- quizzing them on beliefs about various scents and their perceived effects on human performance.

The participants believed they would feel more alert and energetic in the presence of a coffee scent, versus a flower scent or no scent; and that exposure to coffee scent would increase their performance on mental tasks.

The results suggest that expectations about performance can be explained by beliefs that coffee scent alone makes people more alert and energetic.

Previous studies have also suggested that coffee may lessen the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
Diabetes and sleep apnoea may lead to vision loss: Study
Friday, 29th March 2019
Patients who suffer from both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea are at greater risk of losing their vision within a period of four years, a study has found.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, resulting in snoring and interrupting breathing, and it is common in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, diabetic retinopathy - the most common form of diabetic eye disease - affects between 40 and 50 per cent of patients with diabetes and is a leading cause of blindness in the western world.

Previous studies have shown a link between OSA and diabetic retinopathy.

However, there had been no published studies assessing the impact of OSA on the progression of diabetic retinopathy in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

"Despite improvements in glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, diabetic retinopathy remains very common," said Abd Tahrani from the University of Birmingham in the UK."Meanwhile, OSA has been shown to be very common in patients with Type 2 diabetes, which is not surprising considering that excess weight contributes to the development of both of these conditions," said Tahrani."However, most patients who have OSA are not aware that they have the condition and the disease could go undiagnosed for years," he said."We have shown that patients with OSA and Type 2 diabetes, compared to those with diabetes only, are at increased risk of developing advanced diabetic retinopathy over a period of three years and seven months," he added.

The study was carried out at two diabetes clinics and involved 230 patients with Type 2 diabetes.

The patients were assessed for diabetic retinopathy using specialist retinal imaging, while OSA was assessed using a home-based, multi-channel cardio-respiratory portable device.

The results showed that diabetic retinopathy prevalence was higher in patients with OSA (42.9 per cent) compared to those without OSA (24.1 per cent).

The study found that at a follow-up appointment, on average 43 months later, the patients with OSA (18.4 per cent) were more likely to develop moderate to severe diabetic retinopathy compared to those without OSA (6.1 per cent).

It also showed that patients who received treatment for OSA using a machine connected to a face mask that delivers pressure to prevent the blockage of the airways during sleep had a lower risk of developing advanced diabetic retinopathy compared to patients who did not receive the treatment.

"We can conclude from this study that OSA is an independent predictor for the progression to moderate or severe diabetic retinopathy in patients with Type 2 diabetes," said Tahrani.

The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Common disinfectant may cause antibiotic resistance: Study
Friday, 29th March 2019
Triclosan, a common disinfectant present in household products such as body washes may make bacteria resistant to antibiotics, a study published today suggests.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK and colleagues have discovered a link between a major mechanism of antibiotic resistance and resistance to triclosan.

They found that bacteria which mutated to become resistant to quinolone antibiotics also became more resistant to triclosan.

The researchers showed that the quinolone-resistance mutation altered the way the bacteria package their DNA inside a cell and that these mutants had also turned on various self-defence mechanisms - together these gave triclosan resistance.

Quinolone antibiotics are an important and powerful group of human medicines, and this new discovery raises concerns that the use of triclosan can give antimicrobial resistance.

"We think that bacteria are tricked into thinking they are always under attack and are then primed to deal with other threats including triclosan," said Mark Webber, Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham."The worry is that this might happen in reverse and triclosan exposure might encourage growth of antibiotic resistant strains," said Webber, corresponding author of the study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy."We found this can happen in E coli. As we run out of effective drugs, understanding how antibiotic resistance can happen and under what conditions is crucial to stopping selection of more resistant bacteria," he said.

Triclosan has been the cause for some concern which has led to a ban across the EU and US in its use in hygiene products (hand, skin and body washes), researchers said.

Many other antimicrobial agents are, however, still used in these products, they said.
Obesity may put children at increased risk of hip disease, suggests study
Friday, 29th March 2019
A new research suggests that obesity in chilhood may put kids at increased risk of hip disease.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) is the most common hip disease of adolescence. The condition always requires surgery, can cause significant pain, and often leads to a hip replacement in adolescence or early adulthood.

"Ultimately this study helps us to better understand one of the main diseases affecting the hip in childhood," said one of the study authors Daniel Perry from the Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool in Britain.

Children with a SCFE experience a decrease in their range of motion, and are often unable to complete hip flexion or fully rotate the hip inward.

Early recognition of SCFE is important as the deformity may worsen if the slip remains untreated.

In an effort to identify children at higher risk of this condition, the researchers examined hospital and community based records to explore factors associated with SCFE, and explanations for diagnostic delays.

All of the records examined were of individuals under 16-years-of-age with a diagnosis of SCFE and whose electronic medical record was held by one of 650 primary care practices in Britain between 1990 and 2013.

Using the height and weight of children recorded in the notes at some point before the disease was diagnosed, the researchers were able to identify that obese children appear at highest risk of this condition, according to the study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

"This is the best evidence available linking this disease to childhood obesity -- which makes this condition to be one of the only obesity-related disease that can cause life-long morbidity starting in childhood," Perry said.
Eating oranges, grapefruit daily can reduce risk of dementia among the elderly: Study
Monday, 14th January 2019
Older adults who consume orange and grapefruit every day can lower the risk of dementia by 23%, finds a study.

Researchers from Tohuku University in Japan have found that daily intake of any citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons or limes can cut the chances of developing the incurable brain condition by almost a quarter.

The findings suggested that the citric acid contains a chemical nobiletin, which in animal tests has shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory. The team analysed more than 13,000 older adults for up to seven years to see how many developed dementia.

Rates of dementia among those eating citrus fruits at least once a day were significantly lower than in volunteers having them less than twice a week.

"Some biological studies have indicated citrus may have preventive effects against cognitive impairment," the researchers stated."But no study has examined the relation between citrus consumption and rates of dementia. Our findings suggest frequent consumption is linked with a lower risk of dementia," they concluded.
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